Celtx for Novels and Short Stories

There are lots of tutorials for scriptwriting with Celtx, but there are very few for novels. This is program found here and it has lots of functionality for the price: free. And everybody loves free.

So, now that I've written a novel for NaNoWriMo, I've really caught the writing bug, but more importantly, the organizing bug. When I was writing, I had Word documents detailing certain, important scenes, a running outline, character descriptions and whatnot, and I wanted to collect them together to make for easier revisions. So instead of combing them all into one or two documents, I decided that I would try to find something like Scrivener, only free, to put them all in one place. I found out about Celtx through some obscure forum, and after experimenting, I thought I would give it a go. So here's the rundown of all of the novel-ish features of Celtx.

But first, a basic guide to what I do, first thing.

After downloading Celtx, when you first open it up, this is what you see. At the very bottom, there is "Novel". Click that and let's get started.

Off to the left, on the little sidebar there, you have "Unitited" and you can go ahead and rename that to your novel. Then you have "Master Catalog", "Novel" and "Sketch". You can keep "Sketch" there if maybe you have a map, but I usually delete that.

At the top of the window, below "File, Edit, etc" is a toolbar. I click add.

After clicking that, it opens another window. You want to click "Catalog" in the list it brings up. This list includes things like "Animals" and "Extra", but, there is also catalogs for "Characters" and "Scene Details". I add one of each, and then add another novel using the same method.

I rename one of the novels "Outline". On the main screen in the "novel", down at the bottom, there are tabs. One is the "Editor", one is the "Index Cards" and the last one is "Title Page" You can see the editing view above and the index view below.

This is where I do basic outlining - just getting the feel of the chapter down. Each index card adds a chapter. In the editing view, then, I can add a more detailed outline of each chapter. If I feel I need to move a scene around, I can just drag the index card to the appropriate place.

Now, to the "Scene Details" catalog. This is my favorite, especially during the planning and revising stages of the novel. Double click to open it up, and in the top, left corner of the editing view, there is the word "Add", which is circled in the picture below.

A screen will pop open and you can give the scene a title. For each scene it adds, it gives little prompts for you to fill in, including tags. Say you name a scene "Plane Crash". You can give it tag of "Chapter 5", and then sort your scenes by the tags. This makes it much easier to find later.
These prompts are actually really helpful, especially for revising. By following these prompts, it makes it easier to see if a scene is really necessary, even if it is the best scene in your book.

After that, I also added the "Character Catalog". This is formatted the same as the "Scene Catalog", and also includes prompts. Things like "hair color" can really help when your revising and you find that your fiery red-head has turned blonde! It also has the ability to note which function each character has (protagonist, antagonist, etc), and later be sorted by that, and by tags as well.

You can add folders, also found under the Project Library. These can help you sort away your catalogs from world building details.

Don't forget that you can add more "novels" for world building notes, or whatever else you might need!

Overall, I think it takes some experimenting to your personal style, and maybe even what kind of story you're writing. I was super impressed with the functionality of it compared to what I had seen from Scrivener reviews and tutorials. Certainly, it is not as pretty as Scrivener, but you aren't paying for the program at all, and that makes up for it.